By PETE YOUNG
© St. Petersburg Times,
published August 15, 2001
KISSIMMEE -- About 200 supporters made the trip Tuesday from Pinellas County to Kissimmee to watch the Palm Harbor seniors in the World Series.
Upon arrival, they waited. And waited. And waited.
First, they waited for the previous game, a 13-inning senior World Series record-length game, to end.
When the Palm Harbor-Sunnyvale, Calif., game got under way at 8:45 p.m., one hour and 15 minutes late, everyone waited some more -- for something to happen.
Pitchers Ryan Harvey of Palm Harbor and Robert Perry of Sunnyvale were stifling the opposition.
Finally, someone flinched. A Sunnyvale error led to Palm Harbor scraping across a run in the sixth inning, and Harvey made it stand up in the 1-0 win.
"These guys just seem to thrive in these situations," Palm Harbor coach John Petika said. "Ryan Harvey, what can you say? He was great."
Palm Harbor improved to 2-0 in the nine-team, double-elimination World Series and is one game away from a berth in Saturday's championship round. It plays Latin America representative Maracaibo, Venezuela, at 7:30 p.m. today.
In Tuesday's decisive sixth inning, Ed Garton led off with a grounder to shortstop that was booted for an error. He moved to second on a wild pitch and took third on a groundout.
With two outs, catcher Chris Heil stepped up and stroked the first pitch hard on the ground into rightfield to score Garton with the game's only run. It was Heil's second hit and only Palm Harbor's fourth.
"Chris was the only guy that kept his hands back," Petika said. "(Perry) was making us look bad. He kept us off-balance all night."
Heil (2-for-3, RBI) got the pitch he was looking for.
"There was something with (Perry's) glove. We figured it out around the third inning, and I knew the curveball was coming," Heil said, indicating Perry was tipping his pitches. "So I just sat on it and pulled it. And it went through."
Harvey and Perry were studies in contrast -- Harvey the tall, fastball-overhand curveball right-hander, and Perry the crafty, screwball-curveball left-hander -- and dueling models of domination.
Harvey allowed just two hits (both to Perry) and four walks while striking out nine. Perry allowed four hits and one walk and struck out eight.
Sunnyvale, the West representative, threatened in one inning, the fifth. Palm Harbor's only error helped lead to a bases loaded, one-out crisis.
Harvey promptly got a strikeout and first-pitch flyout to diffuse things.
It was another in a string of sensational performances by Harvey.
Friday, in the championship game of the Southern Regional, he whiffed 14 in a complete-game 2-1 win.
"Three days is a pretty decent amount of time to get my arm ready," Harvey said of his brief rest between starts.
"I felt good. My curveball was working excellent today."